Florida man pleads guilty to Plainwell bank robbery

By: 
Daniel Pepper

The man charged with robbing the PNC Bank in Plainwell has pleaded guilty to the charge against him in federal court.
Paul Michael Donnelly, 50, of Key West, Fla., pleaded guilty Monday, July 2, in United States District Court in Grand Rapids.
According to federal court records, Donnelly changed his plea to guilty in front of Magistrate Judge Ray Kent.
Donnelly pleaded to one count of armed bank robbery, a crime punishable by up to 25 years in federal prison at the hearing set for his formal arraignment on the charge.
The robbery Thursday, June 14, stopped traffic in downtown in Plainwell after Donnelly entered the bank branch on North Main Street and gave the teller a note claiming he had a bomb in a bag and demanding non-marked money.
According to the federal charging documents, “The victim teller took approximately $4,749 from her top teller drawer, put the money in the black plastic bag and gave the money to the bank robber, who then walked out of the bank through the same entrance and was lost from view. The robber left the green backpack on the floor of the bank when he fled.”
The Michigan State Police bomb squad was brought in and determined there was no bomb, during which time local police searched Plainwell and the surrounding area for the suspect.
Tips from people who knew Donnelly, seeing photos of the robber disseminated in the media, began coming in to police.
“Donnelly’s associates stated that they recognized Donnelly’s face, posture, unique-looking brimmed fishing hat and sunglasses as belonging to Donnelly,” the federal complaint said.
One person who knew Donnelly reportedly told police that he appeared to be wearing the hat and sunglasses worn during the robbery in a Facebook photo. Others said Donnelly had discussed robbing a bank.
He was arrested about 1:22 am. Friday, June 15, while walking along US-131. Donnelly was arrested and proved to have a .24 blood alcohol level, $4,468.73 in cash and lottery tickets bought about a half hour after the robbery.
Donnelly, the federal documents said, had recently come to Plainwell from Texas to see people he knew and was unemployed.
Contact Dan Pepper at dpepper@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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